Consumer dilemma: a phone contract at home and a new job abroad

Plus: Ryanair reveals its softer side. Again

A reader called Sorcha signed up for a 24-month contract mobile phone deal with Vodafone in August 2015, when she started a new job in a tech company headquartered in Dublin.

“At the time, I had no reason to think that I would not be seeing the contract through in Dublin. However, as of this week, I was made aware of a promotion within the same company, which would mean a relocation to London. Obviously I am delighted about this move, which has come unexpectedly,” she says.

“I assumed, given the move to another country, that I would be able to give sufficient notice and end the contract. However, it seems I assumed incorrectly. When I called Vodafone customer services, they informed me that, with one month’s notice, they will terminate the contract – great! – but with a cancellation fee of €850 (to cover the next 12 months of bills). Boo! I was shocked (possibly naively) and not happy to accept this, as my move is something that is essentially out of my control.”

She said a second option offered was to have someone else take over the contract and number, which does not seem to be a great option. Who in this day and age does not already have a number? Sorcha has had hers for 16 years now.


“I asked to speak with a manager as I was not satisfied with those two options. When I spoke to the manager, they would not back down on the two offered options. They also said that they had fees to pay the phone manufacturer (€20 a month), so I jumped on that and said, ‘Well, if that’s all that’s owing, that means I should only be paying back €240’. He struggled with that point, and went back on what he said, stating that there were more fees than that as agreed in the contract. I was even more frustrated and explained that I would not be opting for either of the two options, so they would need to come up with something else.”

The third and final offer was to keep her number and to use it in the UK, with 1,000 international minutes, unlimited calls and texts to the UK and Ireland and 2GB of data (for essentially the same monthly bill cost). However, for others calling her in the UK, it would be deemed an international call, so it would cost them dearly.

“It does seem like a sort of compromise, but far from ideal. What are my rights here? Am I limited to the above options?”

We contacted Vodafone, which said it had “reached an agreement with the customer which will release her from her current contract without penalty. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and wish her the best of luck with her move.”

Ryanair reveals its compassionate side
A reader who identified only as TF got in touch in connection with Ryanair.

“Recently, I could not travel on a holiday due to the sudden death of a close relative. I made a claim on my holiday insurance and they wanted confirmation from Ryanair that I did not take the flight,” the mail says.

“However, I discovered on the Ryanair site that if you cannot take a flight due to the death of a close relative within 28 days of the flight date, you are entitled to a refund. I applied and within a week the fare was refunded to my credit-card account. This is something I didn’t know and your readers might be interested in hearing about.”

It is not the first time in recent months that people have contacted us to praise Ryanair’s speedy and compassionate response when dealing with would-be passengers who have suffered a bereavement. It is very much to the airline’s credit.

Room for goodwill at Parcel Motel
Another good report, this time in connection with Parcel Motel.

“I always like to make a point of highlighting good customer service to counteract all the moaning I hear, says the mail from Tom McCardle.

“I’ve used Parcel Motel to get deliveries from the UK about four times in the last three years. Twice I’ve missed collection deadlines – once due to an A&E visit, and last weekend when something arrived earlier than expected while I was away. Both times they’ve waived late fees in goodwill gestures after I asked nicely and explained my situation,” his mail continues.

That looks like a sound business decision from where we are standing.